WXXI AM News

Hélène Biandudi Hofer

Need to Know Host

Hélène Biandudi Hofer is host and producer of WXXI TV's Need to Know, an award-winning, half-hour weekly news and public affairs program. Hélène joined the station in September 2010 as the host of All Things Considered.

Before moving to Rochester, Hélène worked at the CBS Primetime show 48 Hours Mystery in New York City. While at CBS she contributed to several documentary specials for the network including the tragedy at Virginia Tech, the tribute to news icon Walter Cronkite, the inauguration of Barack Obama and the CBS/VOGUE Fashion’s Night Out program.

Hélène is a graduate of New York University’s Broadcast Journalism program. After graduation, she returned to her hometown, Columbus, Ohio, where she worked as an associate producer for WBNS-TV.

Ways to Connect

Are Rochester kids better off today than in 2011? That’s when a community-wide initiative called ROC The Future launched. The effort has been an all-hands-on-deck collaboration focused on one thing: improving the state of children in Rochester. On this Need to Know segment we’ll learn what’s working, what isn’t and if things are moving forward fast enough.

It all started with a group of about ten people eager to give back by helping others move forward. They were trained and equipped to take on the proud label of: mentor. Their “mentees” on the other hand had a different type of label, one associated with a host of stigmas due to a troubled past. The mentors: Rochester residents. The “mentees”: ex-offenders returning to the community from time served behind bars. That small group was the first class of mentors for the Judicial Process Commission’s Adult Mentoring Program. It launched more than 20 years ago.

On this edition of Need to Know we hear from a mentor- “mentee” partnership who describe how their relationship has influenced both of their lives. We’ll also learn whether mentoring programs are effective and how they impact the community at-large.

Mentors for ex-offenders. It’s just one strategy out of many intended to reduce recidivism rates and to help high-risk adults find a new life free of crime. Does it work? And does the community have a stake in the matter? We’ll find out on this edition of Need to Know.

Also on the show, an update on just how well we’re all doing with what’s intended to be an “all-hands-on-deck effort” to help Rochester kids successfully progress from cradle to career.

And a Vietnam Veteran says sometimes it feels like he was just there. The experiences of war and the power of sharing one’s story nearly 50 years later.

This week, learn about mentors for inmates. It’s a partnership intended to not only steer individuals on the right path, but to also impact the criminal justice system. So, how is it working in our region? 

And is the state of our children improving? A new report card answers that question – more than five years after the launch of a community-wide effort.

It happened more than four decades ago, so why does its legacy still haunt us to this day? Uncovering the Attica prison uprising and how it impacted the current state of criminal justice on this edition of Need to Know.

Also on the show, he’s the radio personality everyone calls “brother.” And he’s sharing stories about a brotherhood that saw him through some of the best of times and the worst of times. Don’t miss reflections of Vietnam with Brother Wease.

The Attica prison uprising rocked our nation more than four decades ago. So how and why is it still impacting our nation today? Uncovering the mysteries of Attica with Pulitzer prize-winning writer Heather Ann Thompson as she discusses the Attica warning signs still affecting our criminal justice system today.

Don’t miss this special interview during all new Need to Know – Thursday Night at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV

Actors from popular television dramas of the past and present are coming to  Rochester on Friday, September 22. However, they’ll be performing a different type of drama -  live reading of the Greek Tragedy Ajax. The ancient play describes the visible and invisible wounds of war. The play is part of an innovative public health project intended to create an open dialogue and understanding about the impact of war on veterans, their families and communities. We discuss the importance of Theater of War and how it can serve as a bridge to understanding.

It began as a journey to self discovery. But it’s a quest that hasn’t quite come to an end. And international leader on race and genetics and health disparities, Rick Kittles, PhD, would likely say, that’s a good thing. So would the more than 150,000 people that have utilized the company he co-founded, African Ancestry, to help connect the DNA dots to their family tree. But the discoveries don’t stop there.

The RIT alum and Director of the Division of Population Genetics at the University of Arizona was in Rochester to keynote the 2017 Patients First Awards Luncheon for the Jordan Health Foundation. Before that keynote Rick Kittles joined this edition of Need to Know to talk genetics, ancestry and how it all connects to health. 

Everyone from Whoopi Goldberg to Samuel L. Jackson have sought to find the answer to one question” where am I from? But tracing DNA to find family roots has also resulted in significant discoveries. The connection between genetics, ancestry and health on this edition of Need to Know.

Also on the show, why TV stars are traveling to Rochester to set the stage for a community conversation about veterans, their families and post-combat wounds.

And it’s the war some refer to as an “unfinished history.” Preserving stories of the Vietnam War to better understand its impact. That just before a special 10-part, 18-hour series on PBS. 

This week on Need to Know, he has traced the ancestry of more than 150,000 people including Oprah Winfrey and Morgan Freeman. And it all began with a personal desire to know where he came from. A world-renowned leader in the genetic ancestry movement joins us to discuss his latest work and why it matters to you.

Also on the show, a veteran, advocate, and vice chair of the Veterans Outreach Center talks criminal justice reform and the theatre of war.

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